In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is news the Toronto Maple Leafs are grounding their scouts thanks to the Coronavirus outbreak, there is speculation the Montreal Canadiens might be interested in a couple of free agents and there are questions as to what type of insurance the NHL has if events get cancelled due to the virus causing games to be played with no fans, moved or postponed? Finally, what happens to the NHL salary cap next season if multiple games are affected?
Canadiens to Pursue a Couple of Big Free Agents?
TVA Sports posted a piece asking if the Montreal Canadiens might consider going after Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha via an offer sheet this summer. It was already confirmed by TSN’s Pierre LeBrun that Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin won’t shy away from offer sheets if he feels there’s a good fit.
Mantha will become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer, but he’s also a risk due to his injury history.
They also wonder if perhaps Corey Crawford would be a good fit as a backup goaltender in Montreal? TVA Sports Felix Seguin suggests Crawford can still deliver excellent performances and as a Montreal native, has played well against the hometown Canadiens. Crawford also worked with goalie coach Stephane Waite. There’s still the issue of Crawford’s salary, whether or not he’s willing to play a backup role and the term he wants on his next contract.
Maple Leafs Have Grounded Scouts
The Toronto Maple Leafs have grounded their scouts from flying to games amid growing concerns about the spread of COVID-19, and it is believed a handful of other NHL teams have enacted similar measures with their scouts.
It started with the Leafs banning travel for European-based scouts when the outbreak hit but they’ve now expanded that ban to amateur and professional scouts here in North America.
NHL’s Event Cancellation Insurance Policy?
There are questions starting to pop up about what kind of insurance, if any, the NHL has if events like the games potentially taking place in San Jose get altered? The league as a whole could be insured differently than its teams and policies from team-to-team could vary, particularly when talking about the American franchises versus the Canadian ones.
Ryan Tocicki, president of Los Angeles-based Premier Insurance Services, has said most leagues opt to pay for coverage for “communicable disease-related losses.” He added, unfortunately, “It is important to note, however, that losses resulting from ‘threat or fear of communicable disease’ are typically excluded under event cancellation policies.” What this means, while not confirmed, is that the NHL may not have chosen to cancel or move games but when ordered to, followed instructions because the insurance may have kicked in at that point.
Teams are taking a big hit when games are canceled or tickets aren’t usable and recovering potential losses through insurance becomes important.
Coronavirus to Affect Salary Cap?
There are also the concerns about how the economic losses could affect the salary cap moving forward. If enough games are canceled or affected, NHL players will be responsible for a rebate to ensure a 50-50 split between players and owners because the amount they have collected in paycheques will represent more than what the owners receive.
As Frank Seravalli of TSN writes, “There is a provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that any money owed to the owners by players in excess of what was collected in this season’s escrow account comes directly off what is owed to the players next season – thus reducing the salary cap.” In others words, if enough games are canceled and the owner’s pocketbooks affected, the players have to make up for it out of next season’s salaries which could hurt that potential jump everyone talked about.
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Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”